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Vet students who have dogs, how do you manage it?

Discussion in 'Veterinary' started by FutureVet96, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. FutureVet96


    Oct 19, 2016
    6 months ago I decided to get a dog. I knew what I was getting myself into, and I understand that a dog is a huge responsibility. I told myself I'd never give up on her, especially since my parents would gave away a couple dogs we've had. It was highly upsetting to me and the dogs, and I couldn't imagine doing it to her. I would like to know how vet students with dogs (preferably active) are able to balance taking care of their dog and go to vet school. The college I really want to attend is Ohio State University. If I get accepted within the next 4-5 years, she'll be 5-7 years old by then. Just for reference, I've been looking at apartments that allow pets, there's a doggie daycare/hotel nearby and a low cost animal hospital. So far, it doesn't seem too bad. I get $500 out of my mom's fund every month while I'm in school, so my plan is to use the $500 monthly for daycare, boarding, food, etc. for her. I think having a dog is doable, but I want to hear from students who are currently living it. How do you balance it?
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  3. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet NCSU c/o 2018!! 5+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    With difficulty. When I began vet school in 2014, I brought one dog with me (a senior Greyhound). The summer of my first year, I adopted a second- a mixed-breed hound, one of my school's teaching animals. Managing dogs in school was doable during the pre-clinical years. I am a student who attended class every day, without fail (I'd have to be on death's door to miss a lecture). Lectures/labs ran anywhere from 6 to 8 hours per day. Following class, I'd return home and care for my dogs. I spent the majority of my evenings studying at home, in the company of my dogs. Dogs become very difficult to manage when it comes to off-site externships throughout vet school, and clinical responsibilities in senior year. The summer of my second year, I completed a 3 month off-site externship in Michigan- that's several states away from North Carolina. I live on my own, family is several states away, and my friends have their own problems when it comes to pets. I brought my two dogs with me to Michigan for the summer. This was difficult, as I needed to find a pet-friendly apartment close to my externship location that offered month-to-month rent. I looked for housing far in advance, and ended up taking over the lease of an individual who was vacating her apartment around the time I needed to move in. It was unfurnished, and I slept on a camping cot for the duration of my three month stay. It worked out, but wasn't ideal.

    In October of last year (3rd year of school), my Greyhound passed away. I now have a single dog to manage, but fourth year has been rough. Student responsibilities vary tremendously between services. Some are notorious for very rough hours (internal medicine, surgery, emergency, etc.). You'll work full days, and remain in the clinic for on-call responsibilities. Last night, I worked a 17 hour day. You're simply not permitted to 'head home' for a lunch break. NCSU has a very nice feature- on-site day boarding for faculty, staff, and students in the school's Health and Wellness Center (GP service). I utilize this feature heavily during difficult blocks. As it's on site, I can quickly head over to boarding to let my dog out and feed him (briefly). At the end of my shift, I pick him up. Travel to off-site externships is also rough. I traveled across the country (Seattle, WA and Portland, OR) as well as up the eastern seaboard (MA and CT) for my externships. For the East Coast trips, I brought my dog with me (stayed at my Mom's place while in MA [upcoming], rented a pet-friendly AirBnB for another). For the west coast, the time commitment simply didn't allow me to bring my dog. I flew to Seattle (as opposed to driving to my other locations) out of Boston, and left my dog in the care of my Mom for the 6 weeks I was on the West Coast. Again, not ideal. My Mom was a saint for helping me out (she has three cats), and I hated to burden her, but there simply wasn't any other way. I would recommend NOT relying on your friends to care for your animals for weeks on end. They will have their own responsibilities, with their own rotations, and their own pets. Pet care will be on your shoulders while you're in school.

    My dogs were/are well house-trained, and did fine with my normal routine of classwork during my pre-clinical years (I didn't have a dog walker or day care service). I got a nice discount on feed via NCSU's Purina feeding program. Medically, yes, I had some major expenses. My hound ended up chewing on a sheet while I was in Michigan (my first week on-site) and ended up obstructing- that was a $3,000 surgery. My Greyhound ended up developing lymphangiectasia in his twilight months, and a significant financial investment was made in diagnostics to confirm the source of his GI problems.

    Dogs are wonderful. I wouldn't trade either of mine for the world. However, there is quite a bit of sacrifice involved in keeping them- in vet school, or otherwise. The major factors I suggest you consider are:
    -How will I manage my day to day responsibilities with a dog during the classroom years? Is the dog a puppy/geriatric?
    -The big one- how will I handle my fourth year clinical/on-call/travel responsibilities?
    -Do I have contingency funds if there is a medical emergency?

    Hope this is helpful. Having dogs in vet school was a lot of work (and expense, and planning), but it was worth it. I wouldn't trade my guys :) You're smart to think ahead.

    P.S. One of my current block-mates just adopted a puppy (during clinical year) and is regretting her choice of timing.
  4. chickenlittle

    chickenlittle 10+ Year Member

    Oct 7, 2006
    Having a dog while on clinics can be incredibly complicated. There were times during our clinical rotations that I was away from home for 20 hrs at a time. At the time, I had a live-in boyfriend, so he was able to do dog duty. Most of my classmates who didn't have a significant other had a roommate. If I had neither, I probably would have tried to find a neighbor that I could pay to walk my dogs once or twice a day while I was away from home.
  5. kcoughli

    kcoughli Lab Animal Resident Veterinarian 5+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2013
    Chicago, IL
    My advice is to make friends in vet school who are in a different track than you are. Sounds silly, but my 1st-2nd year roommate and best vet school friend was equine track (and also had a dog). That meant that we never had clinical rotations together and often (in the later years) had different class schedules. So when I was in class she could go let the dogs out or vice versa.

    Also recommend setting up a Google doc with your class for 4th year externships - our class did this and had people swapping petsitting (so I watch your dog for 2 weeks while you're on externship and then you watch mine for 2 weeks). You will have classmates that have dogs, going through it together helps.
    Camccamm likes this.
  6. batsenecal

    batsenecal U of I c/o 2021 2+ Year Member

    Nov 22, 2013
    Savoy, IL
    100% have a contingency fund. Several people in my old class had pet emergencies and didn't have an emergency fund for them. They ended up having to resort to GoFundMe accounts, which is something I wouldn't recommend having to deal with. I took several thousand extra in loans for emergencies and am thankful I did
  7. cheathac

    cheathac Purdue c/o 2021!!! 2+ Year Member

    Apr 19, 2015
    Love this thread! I'm probably going to be adopting a dog within the next few weeks. Waiting to hear back about my applications.
  8. thelemonzest

    thelemonzest CSU 2020 5+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2012
    Fort Collins, CO
    So, my husband works from home at least 3/4 of every month, and our dog (not pictured) is super lazy, so both of those things help a lot. Finding a reliable dog sitting/walking service, or doggie day care if your dog's into that, are also important. I know people have different opinions on this, but we do have pet insurance for our dog - it really came in handy when he had a mast cell tumor last year, and it gives me peace of mind to know we have a 90% reimbursement coming in next time he has some growth, or vomits blood, or whatever dog shenanigans he develops. We get a good discount at the teaching hospital, but it's not that good. The last couple weeks between him and the cat, who of course was just diagnosed with CRF, I had to miss a little class to take one of them to urgent care, and scrap a couple nights of studying to help keep the cat alive. Since I'm the "medical" one, most of that care falls on me. But even when they're really difficult and the dog's eating the cat's food and the cat's not eating any food but is drinking all the dog's water....they're totally worth it and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  9. FutureVet96


    Oct 19, 2016
    May I ask why you think pet insurance is worth it? I’ve looked into it, but from what I’ve seen, you have to pay the vet in full then receive reimbursement. As a college student, there are times where I don’t think it’s worth it. If it can’t help me to pay a bill in time of need, I’d rather use my savings account and/or take out a school loan if necessary.
  10. pinkpuppy9

    pinkpuppy9 Illinois c/o 2019 2+ Year Member

    Oct 20, 2013
    You'd rather pay interest on the bill then pay it yourself and get reimbursed a few weeks later?
    batsenecal likes this.
  11. DVMDream

    DVMDream Don't disturb the snowflakes Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

    Jul 15, 2009
    The Dragon School
    Better to use a credit card and then pay that off in full when you get reimbursed than you are to take out additional student loans. Not to mention, you can only get so much in student loans so you might not be able to even do that.
    batsenecal likes this.
  12. thelemonzest

    thelemonzest CSU 2020 5+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2012
    Fort Collins, CO
    So the truth is it's largely peace of mind. If my dog does something really stupid or gets cancer, I don't want to hesitate to treat because I can't afford it. There are other approaches to this, for sure, but I am happy with this one and it's worth it to me.

    You do have to pay in full at the time of service. As others have said, despite paying up front, if you can pay it off within a month it makes more sense than leaving it on a credit card, or using your savings that are presumably/hopefully earning money somewhere. We are responsible with credit cards and have good credit, so it's not a problem to charge it or, if we really needed to, open a Care Credit account. We have received our reimbursements within 2 weeks of submitting the bill (which I can do on my phone with an app!!), so it's no problem to pay off the card promptly.

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